28 May 2015

AUS: The 14th Shangri-La Dialogue, Singapore

I (Minister for Defence: Kevin Andrews) will visit Singapore from 28-31 May 2015 with the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, to attend the 14th annual Shangri-La Dialogue. This is my first visit to Singapore as Defence Minister.

The Shangri-La Dialogue is the foremost gathering of Defence leaders in the Indo-Pacific; bringing together Defence Ministers, Service Chiefs, senior defence officials, industry representatives and academics.

This forum is an opportunity for Defence Ministers and Defence Chiefs from around the world to discuss critical security challenges affecting the Indo-Pacific region and promote the value of building defence relationships through practical cooperation.

USA: Adm. Swift Takes Command of Pacific Fleet

By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Tamara Vaughn

<< Adm. Scott H. Swift reads his orders as he assumes command of U.S. Pacific Fleet from Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. on Wednesday. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Diana Quinlan)

PEARL HARBOR - Adm. Scott H. Swift returned to his home state and relieved Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during a change of command ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor, May 27.

"The magnitude of this moment is not lost on me, especially given my personal and professional history here in Hawaii and the Pacific," said Swift, who became the 35th commander since the Pacific Fleet moved to Hawaii in 1941. "No one is selected for responsibility such as that of the Pacific Fleet based on personal merit or performance alone. It is a reflection of the collective success of many, not one individual, and I am no exception."

Swift also spoke of his fond connection to Hawaii, where he was born when his father was stationed at Pearl Harbor.

USA: Carter Meets With Philippine Counterpart in Hawaii

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2015 – The United States stands by its pledge to defend the Philippines, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told his Philippine counterpart during their meeting in Hawaii today, according to a DoD news release.

During Carter's meeting with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin, the two leaders reaffirmed the strong and enduring ties between the two nations, the release said.

Carter welcomed the opportunity to discuss regional security issues with one of America’s closest allies in the Asia-Pacific, the release said, and stressed that the U.S. commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad.

News Report: Carter - US Will Remain Top Security Power in Asia-Pacific

US SecDef Ash Carter
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that the United States would be the primary security power in the Asia-Pacific region for years, and he demanded that China immediately stop island building in the South China Sea.

Carter said during a visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that all countries in Asia, including China, must stop militarizing their dispute over an island chain and settle it peacefully.

"China's actions are bringing countries in the region together in new ways," he said. "They're increasing demand for American engagement in the Asia-Pacific. We're going to meet it."

Carter said the U.S. would "fly, sail and operate" wherever international law allows.

China has been reclaiming land and building artificial islands in the Spratlys, a group of islands over which several Asian countries claim sovereignty, including China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

But China, with its powerful military, has been much more aggressive in asserting its claim.

Last week, China ordered a U.S. Navy surveillance plane flying near the islands to leave the area. The Pentagon said the jet was flying over international waters and it refused to leave.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Story: Keeping 9-dash line vague in China's best interests - Duowei

The United States will never be able to force China to clarify its controversial nine-dash line because keeping it vague is in Beijing's best interests, says Duowei News, a US-based political news outlet run by overseas Chinese.

Since the start of last year, Washington has renewed its push in denying the legitimacy of the U-shaped nine-dash line, the demarcation used by both Taiwan and China for their claims of the major part of the South China Sea.

Last February, Daniel Russel, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a congressional committee that there are "growing concerns" that China's "pattern of behavior in the South China Sea reflects incremental effort...to assert control over the area... despite objections of its neighbors."

Read the full story at Want china Times

News Story: Rival claimants in S China Sea will not leave Beijing unchallenged

Tensions are high in the South China Sea with the US stating that it may patrol disputed areas in the region after a P8 Poseidon aircraft patrolled the skies over Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys, leading to an exchange of words between Beijing and Washington, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

Other claimants are also building up their naval forces, leading to fears that open conflict may be imminent in the region. The most vocal rival to China is the Philippines, which has openly requested military aid from the US and has discussed joint action with Japan on the South China Sea issue as well as taking its case to the UN for arbitration.

Read the full story at Want china Times

News Story: South China Sea reclamation a 'test of will' for Beijing

Fiery Cross Reef/Island
China's land reclamation in the South China Sea are a test of its strategic will in the face of increasing pressure from the United States, according to a commentary in Hong Kong magazine Yazhou Zhoukan.

Tensions are escalating in the South China Sea, where China has continued to build new land to strengthen its control over disputed islands it claims as its sovereign territory. Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys in particular has been expanded via reclamation to become the largest island in the group. With a new runway and a significant build-up of military facilities on the reef, Fiery Cross has been dubbed "China's unsinkable aircraft carrier" by some US media.

Earlier this month, the USS Blue Ridge, the lead ship of the US Navy's two Blue Ridge class of command ships, was reportedly confronted by two Chinese warships in the South China Sea. Last week, a US Navy P-8A reconnaisance aircraft swooping over Chinese-controlled islands was reportedly warned eight times by the People's Liberation Army to leave China's "military alert zone." The US side insisted that they were over international waters.

On May 16, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, reiterated his government's firm stance on its activities in the South China Sea following a meeting with the visiting US secretary of state, John Kerry.

"The determination of the Chinese side to safeguard our own sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock, and it is unshakable," he said.

Read the full story at Want china Times

News Story: SASC Pushes Bigger Army Role In Pacific Vs. China

Harpoon coastal missile defense system truck,
Danish Navy 1988–2003. (Image: Wiki Commons)

WASHINGTON: The Senate Armed Services Committee has joined the push to give the Army a much larger role in the Pacific. The hard part, ironically, may be getting the Army to go along.

Why should soldiers do more in the Pacific, a theater traditionally dominated by pilots, Marines, and, above all, sailors? The Pacific, obviously, is full of water. But it’s also full of islands — and some of the larger islands signed treaties with the US: Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan. The Army’s potential role there isn’t limited to defending against invasion. The Army already has missile defense radars in Japan (the Raytheon AN/TPY-2) and may deployTHAAD anti-missile batteries to South Korea.

But why stop at defensive systems, ask lawmakers like House seapower chairman Randy Forbes. China’s Second Artillery Force already has long-range land-based missiles that can attack US and allied ships far out at sea. What if the US and its allies fielded land-based anti-ship systems of their own? That might deter — or in the last resort, defeat — a Chinese land grab for disputed islands like the Senkakus or the Spratlys.

Pushed by Forbes, the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act requires a Pentagon report “as to the feasibility, utility, and options for mobile, land-based systems to provide anti-ship fires.” That’s an idea endorsed by former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The Senate’s version of the bill goes much further.

Read the full story at Breaking Defense

News Story: Australia To Reform Defense Acquisition

HMAS Hobart, 1st of the AWD's shortly after it's launch
By Nigel Pittaway

MELBOURNE, Australia — The long-awaited Australian defense white paper will likely be released in July, fulfilling a promise made when the Liberal government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott took office in late 2013. The document will spell out Australia's strategic defense priorities for the foreseeable future and the attendant Defence Capability Plan (DCP) will include new acquisition projects over the coming decade.

The DCP likely will include new frigates and submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, an armed unmanned aerial system and VIP aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and follow-on orders of armored fighting vehicles for the Australian Army — capabilities the white paper probably will underscore.

The new equipment will be in addition to current acquisition projects, which include three air warfare destroyers (AWDs), 72 joint strike fighters and the first tranche of the Land Combat Vehicle System (LCVS) program of mounted combat reconnaissance vehicles.

But the defense organization as a whole is facing reorganization, with far-reaching implications for future procurement, following the First Principles Review, a report on the acquisition process released April 1 by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Tankers, Helos Top S. Korean Projects

Airbus Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)

SEOUL — The selection of a foreign contractor to supply the South Korean Air Force with four aerial refueling tankers is just around the corner.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said April 14 that it started price bidding for the 1.48 trillion won (US $1.36 billion) program. Competitors are Boeing, Airbus Defence and Space, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Boeing offers the KC-46 Pegasus, while Airbus pitches the A300-based multirole tanker transport. Israel is proposing the 767-300ER aircraft.

"The evaluation will go through the end of May before selecting a final contract in June," a DAPA spokesman said, adding that two tankers are to be put into service in 2018 and the remainder the following year.

Price may be the most important factor, according to observers.

Read the full story at DefenseNews